Not guilty verdict in Marceau murder case

KIRSTY JOHNSTON
Last updated 16:39 17/10/2012
Christie Marceau
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CHRISTIE MARCEAU: The 18-year-old was found dead at her home in Hillcrest, Auckland.
Akshay Anand Chand
GRAHAME COX/ Fairfax NZ
NOT GUILTY: Akshay Chand has been acquitted of the murder of Christie Marceau, on the grounds of insanity.
Marceau family
JOHN SELKIRK/ Fairfax NZ
MARCEAU FAMILY: Tracey and Brian Marceau arrive at the Auckland High Court this morning for the start of the trial of the man accused of murdering their daughter.

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A young man who killed Auckland teenager Christie Marceau has been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.

Justice Helen Winkelmann ruled at the High Court in Auckland today that Akshay Anand Chand, 19, will be confined indefinitely in a psychiatric ward as a special patient to protect public safety.

Winkelmann said despite the calculated nature of the crime she found that Chand was labouring under delusional concepts and she accepted he was insane at the time of the killing.

The court heard from two psychiatrists that Chand had said that voices in his head told him to kill Marceau because she was the devil.

They found, in separate diagnoses, that Chand did not know right from wrong and the time of the murder because he was suffering a "disease of the mind". He is now being treated for schizophrenia.

Marceau, 18, was stabbed to death by Chand at her Hillcrest home on November 7, 2011. Two months earlier, she had been kidnapped and assaulted by Chand, who was arrested and sent to Mt Eden jail.

Chand told police that he planned the killing while he was awaiting trial for the kidnap, and lied to the courts in order to get out on bail to complete his plan.

On the morning of the killing, Chand went to the Marceau house with a knife from his home, knocked on the door and pushed past Tracey Marceau to get to her 18-year-old daughter.

Marceau tried to run, but Chand chased her and caught up with her in the garden, where he stabbed her to death, only stopping when the blade of the knife was so bent it was useless. She died in her mother's arms while Chand calmly waited for police to arrive, smiling.

When the police arrived and asked why he was there, Chand said "reprisal". When asked why he was shaking, he said "it's not easy to kill someone is it."

As the summary of events was read out, Marceau's mother and sister sobbed in the witness gallery. Chand, flanked by court security, sat passively, his face showing no emotion other than an occasional frown.

Retired Director of Mental Health and psychiatrist Dr David Chaplow, who appeared on behalf of the defence, said Chand had likely been in the grip of a psychotic illness for up to a year prior to the death.

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He told how Chand's academic performance had plummeted in the last two years of school - to the point he failed his final year. He was depressed, stopped eating and quit his job at a supermarket - instead staying at home in his room playing video games.

He became obsessed with capitalism and Karl Marx, and believed he had cervical cancer despite this being impossible.

Chaplow - who interviewed Chand twice and read all the other material from the case including witness interviews and doctor's reports - said he began hearing voices at the beginning of 2011.

At first, he named the voice "Loralei" but later realised it was the voice of a girl he had known during his year in Wales when he was eight, named Pauline.

It was Pauline who told Chand to "mutilate" Marceau, wanting him to stab her eyes and cut off her ears, Chaplow said.

Chand told police after the killing that he had a female accomplice that he wouldn't name who was going to kill two more people.

This later proved to be Pauline, Chaplow said, someone who did not exist except for in Chand's mind.

Chaplow found the hallucinations plus the "lack of insight" into the crime and condition added up to schizophrenia and deemed Chand insane at the time of the killing, and unable to tell right from wrong.

However he said Chand was not insane at the time of the kidnapping and sexual assault - a judgement he made after Chand told him he initially intended to rape Marceau but couldn't go through with it - proving he had some awareness of what he was doing. Chand will also be sentenced on those charges tomorrow.

Professor Graham Mellsop, for the Crown, said Chand displayed a  "full house" of schizophrenic symptoms.

He was indifferent, self-centered, delusional, irrational and lacked empathy - best evidenced in his bizarre behaviour after the murder - where he somewhat boasted to police and then, while they were out of the room, groomed himself in the reflection of the camera, Mellsop said.

He also placed significant weight on Chand's unusual behaviour before the killing, such as giving large amounts of money to others. He referred to descriptions of Chand by others as "weird" and "inappropriate" as evidence he had been ill for up to a year.

He said the element of planning to the crime did not detract from the "insanity" conclusion.

"If you are six foot six and have diabetes none of those things defines the whole you," Mellsop said. "If you have a psychotic disoarder it doesn't describe the whole of you. It's not at all unique for people with psychosis to plan."

Mellsop said he had absolutely no doubt that Chand did have schizophrenia.

He said initially, he was extremely suspicious that Chand was malingering, but on the balance of probablities he was now satisfied that Chand did not know what he was doing was wrong.

Chand would be made a special patient, only to be released by the Minister of Health at his discretion.

- Auckland Now

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